23 July 2010

Special Feature: Meet Pamila Payne

The very first time I came across Pamila Payne's website was after I was double-featured with her AT-THE-BIJOU. I was so impressed with the immersive stories and gritty noir (not to mention it's set in Texas at a ghostly motel) I had to know more. Somehow, she didn't find me to be a crazy; we actually have quite a bit in common. So when she agreed to an interview hosted at Mindspeak, you can imagine how delighted I was. 

Please, if you follow and enjoy my work, I can guarantee you will love hers.

After all, we write from the same vein. - Carrie

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What was it like growing up for you?

Early, early childhood. I started sorting out how to read and write before I started school and pretended to write new parts for the bible to annoy my grampa. I developed a precocious sense of irreverence toward imposed religion. He was a minister and he read to me about god a lot. It was all up for debate as far as I was concerned. He also read me the newspapers and whatever was laying around because I would shut up and listen and not torment my gramma when he was reading to me. I was a typical maladjusted social retard right out of the gate. Other children were alien creatures, whose language and customs were indecipherable to me. I failed at assimilation. I turned to books for companionship and learning and never looked back. I started writing "serious" stories in high school when a sympathetic english teacher encouraged me.

Not to mention you have a famous brother. Can we mention him? (I'm a Nitzer Ebb fan)

He's a very private person. I will say that I adore him, he's an amazing artist and a very kind, loving brother to me. He's in Europe performing with the Ebb again right now.

I have to put off unnecessary things (like sleep) to get anything done for my stories. What is your work schedule like when you're writing? When you get really inspired what are your methods to capture those lines?

There is no rhyme or reason to my writing, I don't keep a schedule. Sometimes I write one sentence fragment at a time. Sometimes I'll stay home and binge write for hours and hours. If I don't have to go to work, I'll exist on tea and rye crackers spread with inappropriate condiments to avoid leaving the house. When the story is talking, I have to get it down wherever I am. This can be awkward at work. I've written parts of my novels and short stories on scratch paper, receipts, my arms. I've walked around muttering fragments under my breath over and over again to keep from forgetting them. Now I usually have my iPhone with me and can tap bits into that. It feels a little more civilized, but it still sucks when the inspiration is happening and I can't stop to just sit down and write properly.

Dealing with historical settings means accurate tidbits in your stories. How do you research for your writing?

I research like a dowser online. I look at vintage picture archives a lot. Pictures can really get me worked up. I watch old movies the way people turn on background music. I listen to radio theater and old radio shows. I really love recorded interviews and oral histories of real people so I can get a sense of how people spoke in the past. I read archived newspapers. I skip around doing keyword searches on google. I file everything away for future use. I'm a magpie.

Your writing is so well put-together. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

You're already doing a stellar job, far as I can see. Maybe I'd give you the same advice I keep telling myself - you know you can really write, it's not a hobby, it's who you are. So do whatever it takes to make it your career. The clock never stops ticking, but we do...

I'm a huge collector/avid reader of non-fic/reference books. What kinds of books do you own/read?

I own a fair amount of nonfiction research books that I covet, but don't honestly use as much as I use the internet to look stuff up. I cleared out a lot of books the last time I moved. I keep certain novels and photography books that have personal meaning or are references. I hardly ever read paper books anymore because of the time commitment, I started listening to audiobooks years ago and have become a voracious listener instead. Audiobooks, and reading aloud have had a huge impact on my development as a writer. That's why I'm pursuing a career in narrating as well as writing. Mostly, I'm drawn to crime stories, mysteries that have unusual elements, pulpy or noir detective, darker fiction... surprised? In the last year I've been making it a point to buy paper books and read them with my eyes when someone I like online gets published. I'm reading Eric Beetner's One Too Many Blows to the Head right now. (It was practically written for me to love it - destined to become a new noir classic.) Also, I'm a Dickens fanatic. I continue to be comforted and inspired by Dickens.

The colors and noir-look of your website really caught my eye right off. Who did that gorgeous site of yours?

Hah. My barely serviceable googlephobic site is homemade by me. Angrily. I've developed a sort of road rage at my website. I was just screaming at my poor computer this morning. It's not the computer's fault. It's the evil software. One of these days I'm going to sort it out and do it properly. I haven't figured out how to get comment fields embedded. There's an email address connected though, and I'd love to hear from my visitors.

I really love your style with everything you write. Where can I find more work you've done?

Most of my readable online work is published or linked on my website and my blog.
I haven't submitted to lit mags nearly as much as I ought to. I'll do something about that.
I really like this one, "She Got Hers" at The Journal.
Six Sentences is where I got my start. There are some rare non-Bella Vista pieces here.
I'm also one of the mysterious Harbinger*33 authors, I'll have a few new pieces in that when it comes out.

As to getting published and/or finding an agent, I find this too is a strange alien process. Just when I think I've got a handle on it, the whole thing goes sideways. I suspect I'd be published and successful by now if I'd have just followed Stephen King's advice from his book, On Writing, and found myself a loving, supportive wife when I was young. Too late for that. I'm studying the phrase books and trying to learn the language as best I can. I can kind of manage a sort of pigeon query-speak at the moment. But I'm a lot like Slappy. I'll figure it out. I figure everything out eventually.

Everyone please check out Pamila's stunning work and leave some love in the comments section. Thanks for dropping by and supporting excellent writers.


Marisa Birns said...

Nice to meet you, Pamila. Loved this interview and learning all about you! It wasn't a grandpa who read the bible aloud to me, but rather nuns at Catholic School and I am blushing as I tell you that I was such a good little listener that I won a Religion Medal at the end of one year!

Of course, I've grown up :D

There may not be any rhyme or reason to your writing but the end result is that, as Carrie said, it is really well put together.

Pamila, thank you - and Carrie - for sharing a bit about you here.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Well, that was fabulous! So nice to meet Mz Pamila Payne. Well thought out questions; quirky, interesting answers; and a nice photo, too.
Kudos to you both.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Great interview, Carrie. I've been following Bella Vista for a while and have been curious about the mysterious Pamila Payne. Thank you both!

Laurita said...

I've been a fan of Pamila's work for a while. It was nice to learn more about the person and the writer. Thanks, Carrie. And thanks Pamila.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Oh mysterious grace ~ I've got a tear glisten going on and electric nerve'endings special effects on my psyche.

Humbly and oh so VERY proud,I'm the chatelaine AT THE BIJOU who felt once upon a memorable time the most perfect way to introduce the teeming talents of scary (but oh so loveable) CARRIE CLEVENGER could be in teaming with none other than same genre's depth and fear and reality of making characters so memorable appear -- so I took a flashlight and went knockin' on the Bella Vista door. Yep - PAMILA PAYNE -- the illustrious Pamila Payne is a dame worth reckoning with and reading and jiving and thriving with ... over and over and over again -- and I shall ... from that fated duet to *the mysterious* (nice plug) HARBINGER*33 ... to some kind of Esmerelda psychic vibe (recall that mechanical fortune-teller you gave a quarter to?) that one day I'll come across a 'whom' who gets Pamila's Bella Vista to TheMovies fame (Payne/Hitchcockian?). Yeah, that's the ticket.

Carrie - you excelled in Pamila on display in such an indomitable way. Asking here publicly, as I did the irrepressible Cathy Olliffe for a run of this interview in the upcoming (not mysterious - but sensation-endowed) HARBINGER*33? (Say 'yes' - will'ya?)

Eric Beetner's ONE TOO MANY BLOWS TO THE HEAD and Nick Quantrill's BROKEN DREAMS are superb ... the authors harbinger swell too ... wait and see.

~ Absolutely*Kate - who so loves the spirit of Pamila Payne and Carrie Clevenger ... or else alliteration's intrigue

Linda said...

Great interview, Carrie! Pamila writes amazing stuff, and just when I think I've figured out her 'style', she wows me with something from left-field. SHe's got versatility indeed. Peace...

EC said...

Love the interview - great questions and I enjoyed Pamila's history and take on writing. Best of luck with the Bella Vista Motel - it looks really good.

Sulci Collective said...

Great interview - just love how Pamila describes not fitting in to the child mores and also the image of writing on her arms when nothing else is to hand. That for me is the definition of a writer.

If people haven't sampled her writing yet, you should do. It's marvellous and original.

Marc Nash

Pamila Payne said...

Thanks so much for having me over, Carrie. You're a wonderful hostess and I'm pleased to have had the chance to sit in your interview chair. Thanks also to Carries readers for taking the time to read. I love Carrie's work too, and will keep reading everything I can get my eyes on from her.

Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

Wow, thanks so much for the introduction. Definately off to check out her work.



Michael Solender said...

Pamila indeed is a wonderful talent and a tremendous contributor to the NOIR scene and community. I always look forward to her work, nice going Carrie. Let's not forget her great narration talent and speaking voice that has been featured over at Cast Macabre by Barry Northern - fabulous reads that she has lent her talent to as well..

John Wiswell said...

This was lovely of you to do, Carrie. The intro was gracious and the interview got deep without dragging. Thanks to both you.

Jodi MacArthur said...

I've been a huge fan of Pamila's from the first time I read her 6s about those dead hotel guys. I love this interview, so much insight to how her mind works and who she is.

Dickens? No kidding. This tickles me to death (David Copperfield is my fav book of all time).

And I laughed when i read she use to write up new parts of the bible to annoy her grandpa. HA.

Awesome Q's Carrie. I'm so glad you did this! Pamila's hotel of dead guys are gonna be huge oneday, HUGE.

So glad I didn't miss this.

Unknown said...

Carrie... Thanks so much for this. Pamila was once of the first writers I met and gravitated towards online back when we all hung at Six Sentences...

I dig everything about her...

Diandra said...



There is an award waiting for you!


Eric Beetner said...

Thanks for the shout out Pamila. I can attest that Pamila's stories are dark and noir just the way I like 'em too. It's a pleasure being seen at the Bijou with her.
And Carrie, next tme you need a guest at Mindspeak, I'm available :)

Paul D Brazill said...

Great stuff. Ms P is a major writing star in the making.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Wow, great to meet you , Pamila. You are a fascinating writer. Thanks for sharing about your writing process. I will be following your site!

Anonymous said...

Carrie, I am so embarrassed. I thought Ant did this fantastic interview and it was yours. :( Please forgive me. Even better erase the first comment.

MCrittenden said...

what a super cool interview! I was also a huge Nitzer Ebb fan. Very interesting stuff.